Why Has Modi's India Failed to Internationally Isolate Pakistan Despite its Best Efforts?

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has pursued a policy of internationally isolating Pakistan for the last 8 years. Indian diplomats and mainstream media have engaged in a concerted campaign to hurt Pakistan diplomatically and economically during this period. Even the sport of cricket has not been spared.  All of the available evidence suggests that this Indian campaign has failed.  

Pakistan PM with Other World Leaders at SCO Summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Source: Xinhua

A prominent Indian journalist Shekhar Gupta has recently summarized the reasons for the Modi government's failure to achieve its objectives relative to Pakistan. Gupta argues that Pakistan is too important to be ignored or isolated by the international community. He says, "Pakistan is too big in terms of population, too powerful militarily, too Muslim, too nuclear and too well located to be isolated". 

Pakistan PM Shahbaz Sharif with President and Mrs. Biden. Source: White House

Here are some of the key points Shekhar Gupta makes in episode 1093 of his show Cut The Clutter : 

1.Pakistan is our most important neighbor. We must focus on Pakistan.

2, We can not ignore Pakistan in India because the world can not ignore Pakistan

3. The Western world has an intrinsic relationship with Pakistan which doesn't go away

4. The West does not see Pakistan as so useful to them today and yet Pakistan can not be isolated.

5. You can see all the indications that Pakistan is not isolated.

6. A lot of (Indian) TV channels say Pakistan is isolated but the evidence doesn't support it.

7. Pakistan FM visited Washington and met his counterpart Tony Blinken. 

8. Pakistan Army Chief has received a warm welcome at the US Defense Dept and met US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. Bajwa matters more than the Pakistan Defense Minister. Nobody knows his name.

9. US Ambassador to Pakistan Donald Blome, a career diplomat, has visited "Pakistan Occupied Kashmir" and called it Azad Kashmir...Azad means free.

10. When the chips are down in the region Pakistan is the ally Americans reach out to.

11. The US does not want Pakistan to drift to China.

12. German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock has spoken about Kashmir...the K word. She has asked for the UN to help solve the Kashmir issue.

13. Pakistan Army Chief General Bajwa is not a warmonger. He wants to normalize ties with India. He wants to trade with India. He doesn't want Faiz Hameed to succeed him. He used to be the ISI chief and took credit for the Taliban victory in Afghanistan. Do the Americans have leverage here?

14. Where does Pakistan's unique power come from? Why can't Pakistan be ignored? Why can't Pakistan be isolated?

15. The Indian public needs to understand it.

16. Pakistan is too big in terms of population, too powerful militarily, too Muslim, too nuclear and too well located to be isolated.

17. Pakistan has the 5th largest population and its population is growing fast. It could soon exceed Indonesia to become the largest Muslim nation in the world.

18. Pakistan has the 5th strongest military in the world.

19. In terms of nuclear weapons, Pakistan has the 4th largest nuclear arsenal in the world.

20. Pakistan is too well located to be isolated. It has geo-strategic location. Pakistan is the western gateway to China. Pakistan opened China's ties with the US. And then helped the US defeat the Soviet Union.

21. The factors that made Pakistan such a strong ally to US still exist. Don't blame the Pakistanis for it.

22. India is not willing to commit to an alliance with the US.

23. Imran Khan tried to change Pakistan's foreign policy to be more like India's but he failed.

Mentions of Afghans and Afghanistan in US National Security Strategy via Sameer Lalwani 

Prime Minister Modi is getting similar inputs and advice from retired Indian diplomat Sharat Sabharwal. In his recently published book "India's Pakistan Conundrum", Sabharwal disabuses his fellow Indians of the notion that Pakistan is about to collapse. He also writes that "Pakistan has shown remarkable resilience in the face of adversity".  "Pakistan is neither a failed state nor one about to fail", he adds. He sees "limitations on India’s ability to inflict a decisive blow on Pakistan through military means". The best option for New Delhi, he argues, is to engage with Pakistan diplomatically. In an obvious message to India's hawkish Hindu Nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he warns: "Absence of dialogue and diplomacy between the two countries carries the risk of an unintended flare-up". Ambassador Sabharwal served as Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan from 2009 to 2013. Prior to that, he was Deputy High Commissioner in Islamabad in the 1990s.

Here's Shekhar Gupta's video titled "Gen Bajwa in DC, US envoy, German FM statements on Kashmir, show why Pakistan can’t be isolated."

https://youtu.be/NuXd4d_clf4

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Modi's India: A Paper Elephant?

Can Washington Trust Modi's India as Key Ally in Asia?

US-Pakistan F-16 Deal: Indian Minister Jaishankar Throws a Tantrum

Ukraine's Lesson For Pakistan: Never Give Up Nuclear Weapons

Geopolitically Important Pakistan Brings Together China, Russia, US, UK For Joint Naval Drills

US and China Compete For Influence in Pakistan

Indian Diplomat on Pakistan's "Resilience", "Strategic CPEC"

Vast Majority of Indians Believe Nuclear War Against Pakistan is "Winnable"

Comments

Dinesh said…
India put Pakistan on FATF grey list, costing its economy billions of US$
Riaz Haq said…
Dinesh: "India put Pakistan on FATF grey list, costing its economy billions of US$"


India has played a role in Pakistan's grey-listing by FATF but it has primarily been due to Pakistan's strained ties with the US, stemming from the situation in Afghanistan. US-Pakistan ties, being essentially transactional, have seen many ups and downs over the decades
Riaz Haq said…
New Delhi Senior serving and retired Indian and Pakistani officials participated in a conference organised recently by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IIS) in Oman with the stated aim of encouraging engagement between the two countries, people familiar with the matter said.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/india-pak-officials-joined-muscat-event-in-september-to-encourage-engagement-101666204541007.html

The 15th edition of the Southern Asia Security Conference saw the officials from the two sides participating in “off the record” sessions that were held behind closed doors. The people cited above made it clear that there were no bilateral meetings between the two sides though there were extensive discussions during the various sessions of the conference.

The conference, which was held in Muscat during September 17-18, saw the participation of an Indian delegation that included the external affairs ministry’s pointperson for Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran, joint secretary J P Singh, and at least two former officials from the external intelligence setup who continue to be active in tracking Pakistan-related issues, the people said.

The Pakistani side was represented by former foreign secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani, the special representative for Afghanistan, Mohammad Sadiq, and Brig Zulfiqar Ali Bhatty, the director of strategic communications in Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Haneef Atmar, the foreign minister in the former Afghan government led by president Ashraf Ghani, also participated in the conference, the people said.

Indian officials did not respond to a request for comment on the participation in the Southern Asia Security Conference, which is usually organised by UK-based IISS in collaboration with the Near East South Asia Center (NESA) of the US National Defense University in Washington.

The conference was held at a time when there are virtually no bilateral contacts between India and Pakistan, with relations having plummeted since New Delhi scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s special status in August 2019. At the time, Pakistan downgraded diplomatic ties with India and sent back the Indian high commissioner in Islamabad.

The joint secretary for the Pakistan-Afghanistan-Iran desk in the external affairs ministry has participated in past editions of the Southern Asia Security Conference along with serving and retired diplomats and intelligence officials. The conference resumed in 2021 following a hiatus in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

IISS states on its website that its South and Central Asian defence, strategy and diplomacy programme aims to “encourage contact and engagement between the security establishments and strategic communities of India and Pakistan to help resume an India-Pakistan peace process”. It further states that relations between the two countries “hit a 20 year low in 2019 and have been damaged by a decade with no peace dialogue”.

The people said some of the discussions at this year’s conference centred on the possibility of resumption of talks between New Delhi and Islamabad, though some participants thought this was unlikely because Pakistan is expected to go into a national election in 2023 and there will be a leadership change in the Pakistan Army in November.


Issue such as Kashmir, counter terrorism, Pakistan’s support for pro-Khalistan elements and normalisation of trade also came up in the discussions. The participants reportedly noted that the revival of the ceasefire on the Line of Control (LoC) in 2021 had helped improve the security situation, the people said.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan Removed From Terror-Financing List After Four Years - Bloomberg

A global anti-money laundering watchdog removed Pakistan from its “gray” monitoring list after four years, providing relief for the South Asian nation that is facing a crisis.

The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force said the country “has strengthened the effectiveness” of its regime for anti-money laundering and combating terror financing, and addressed technical deficiencies to meet the commitments of its action plans.



https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-10-21/pakistan-removed-from-terror-financing-list-after-four-years


Pakistan has been on the FATF’s monitoring list since 2018 for its inability to combat money laundering and terror financing. It was given a 27-point plan that year and another seven-point action plan in 2021. In September of this year, the watchdog had sent a team to verify steps taken.

The exit will ease access to finances for the country after catastrophic flooding caused losses of around $40 billion to lives and livelihoods. Fitch Ratings and Moody’s Investors Service have downgraded the nation’s credit rating deeper into junk while its bonds traded in distressed territory.

FATF is an intra-governmental body that includes 37 countries and two regional organizations. China, Turkey and Malaysia have lobbied in the past to prevent severe penalties against Pakistan, while India, which accuses Islamabad of funding militant groups operating in its portion of Kashmir, had sought a downgrade to the more severe blacklist

Riaz Haq said…
FATF
@FATFNews
Pakistan and Nicaragua have been removed from the FATF’s Jurisdictions under Increased Monitoring list, often referred to as the 'grey list'. See the full update on the list here➡️ https://bit.ly/3Dj3K9S #FollowTheMoney

https://twitter.com/FATFNews/status/1583499858123448330?s=20&t=pb7ZmsupBVCjSyrdMKknbA

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Paris, 21 October 2022 - Jurisdictions under increased monitoring are actively working with the FATF to address strategic deficiencies in their regimes to counter money laundering, terrorist financing, and proliferation financing. When the FATF places a jurisdiction under increased monitoring, it means the country has committed to resolve swiftly the identified strategic deficiencies within agreed timeframes and is subject to increased monitoring. This list is often externally referred to as the “grey list”.

The FATF and FATF-style regional bodies (FSRBs) continue to work with the jurisdictions below as they report on the progress achieved in addressing their strategic deficiencies. The FATF calls on these jurisdictions to complete their action plans expeditiously and within the agreed timeframes. The FATF welcomes their commitment and will closely monitor their progress. The FATF does not call for the application of enhanced due diligence measures to be applied to these jurisdictions. The FATF Standards do not envisage de-risking, or cutting-off entire classes of customers, but call for the application of a risk-based approach. Therefore, the FATF encourages its members and all jurisdictions to take into account the information presented below in their risk analysis.

The FATF identifies additional jurisdictions, on an on-going basis, that have strategic deficiencies in their regimes to counter money laundering, terrorist financing, and proliferation financing. A number of jurisdictions have not yet been reviewed by the FATF or their FSRBs, but will be in due course.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the FATF has provided some flexibility to jurisdictions not facing immediate deadlines to report progress on a voluntary basis. The following countries had their progress reviewed by the FATF since June 2022: Albania, Barbados, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cayman Islands, Haiti, Jamaica, Jordan, Mali, Morocco, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Philippines, Senegal, South Sudan, Türkiye, UAE, and Uganda. For these countries, updated statements are provided below. Gibraltar chose to defer reporting; thus, the statement issued in June 2022 for that jurisdiction is included below, but it may not necessarily reflect the most recent status of the jurisdiction’s AML/CFT regime. Following review, the FATF now also identifies the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique, and Tanzania.

The FATF welcomes the progress made by these countries in combating money laundering and terrorist financing, despite the challenges posed by COVID-19.

Pakistan
The FATF welcomes Pakistan’s significant progress in improving its AML/CFT regime. Pakistan has strengthened the effectiveness of its AML/CFT regime and addressed technical deficiencies to meet the commitments of its action plans regarding strategic deficiencies that the FATF identified in June 2018 and June 2021, the latter of which was completed in advance of the deadlines, encompassing 34 action items in total. Pakistan is therefore no longer subject to the FATF’s increased monitoring process.

Pakistan will continue to work with APG to further improve its AML/CFT system.
Riaz Haq said…
Rain threatens #India-#Pakistan blockbuster. India will be particularly under pressure to avoid a repeat of the last year's #WorldCup when a 10-wicket thumping by Pakistan in their opener set the tone for their early exit from the tournament. #Australia https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/rain-threat-looms-over-india-pakistan-blockbuster-2022-10-22/

The Melbourne Cricket Ground is set to become a cauldron of emotions but the tournament's most anticipated clash could prove a damp squib with rain forecast this weekend and India skipper Rohit Sharma said his team will be ready.

"The toss does become a little important. But again, I've been hearing about the Melbourne weather for a while now and it keeps changing," Rohit said. "You don't really know what is going to happen tomorrow.

"The things that are in our control we'll try and control... We need to come here thinking that it's a 40-over game. We'll be ready for that. If the situation demands that it's a shorter game, we'll be ready for that as well.

"A lot of the guys have played such kinds of games before, and they know how to manage themselves in a situation like that where you're getting ready for a 40-over game and then suddenly it's a 20-over game for both sides."

Players from both sides have sought to downplay the hype around the match even though tickets sold out within five minutes of going on sale earlier this year.

They even hobnobbed with each other though many suspect the bonhomie is a coping mechanism to deal with the pressure of expectation from their unforgiving fans back home.

India will be particularly under pressure to avoid a repeat of the last year's World Cup when a 10-wicket thumping by Pakistan in their opener set the tone for their early exit from the tournament.

The strike rate of their top order and death bowling remains a concern for the inaugural champions who are without injured pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah.

The onus is on their explosive middle order, led by the swashbuckling Suryakumar Yadav, to come good against Pakistan's formidable pace attack bolstered by Shaheen Afridi's return from a knee injury.

Afridi had removed Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul in last year's tournament to set the tone for their comprehensive victory and the left-arm speedster would be eager to prove his class on Sunday.

Pakistan's much-maligned middle order showed signs of form in the recent tri-series in New Zealand but a lot would depend on what kind of start they get from Mohammad Rizwan, currently the top-ranked T20 batter, and skipper Babar Azam at the top of the order.

"It's a high-pressure game but we'll try to keep it simple and keep faith in our abilities and the practice that we've done," said Babar.

India's Yadav separates Rizwan and Babar in the official rankings and fans would be justified in expecting batting fireworks in a match featuring the world's top three T20 batters.

Riaz Haq said…
Steve Hanke
@steve_hanke
Prof Jeffrey Sachs said, "The most dangerous country in the world since 1950 has been the United States". The Athens Democracy Forum’s moderator immediately tried to silence Sachs. So much for FREE SPEECH at the Athens Democracy Forum.

https://twitter.com/steve_hanke/status/1584546679759327232?s=20&t=MmJf3m9JsP_y5s3xqe-rRg
Riaz Haq said…
US leverages India-Pakistan differences for its own interest: Sharad Sabharwal

https://www.livemint.com/news/world/us-leverages-india-pakistan-differences-for-its-own-interest-sharad-sabharwal-11666696757587.html


US's recent overtures to Pakistan, seen in Washington's decision to support Islamabad's F-16 fighters, are part of a strategy to play on differences between India and Pakistan, says former Indian envoy to Pakistan Sharad Sabharwal in an exclusive interview to Mint. By pursuing a reset with Pakistan, America is also signalling its displeasure with India's policy on Ukraine. While India and Pakistan will not resolve their differences in the foreseeable future, Sabharwal believes a growing constituency in Pakistan understands the need for a stable relationship with India. Ambassador Sabharwal also speaks of his latest book, "India's Pakistan Conundrum".

How do we make sense of the state of play in the India-Pakistan relationship? And is it a state of affairs that we can live with?

It's a situation that we have seen on some occasions earlier. That is: no war, no peace. After Uri, there had been a sharp decline in the relationship and the ceasefire had almost unraveled on the Line of Control. That was restored in February 2021. Since then, there has been a degree of calm in the relationship. There was an expectation that some more steps may be taken like upgrading the relationship back to high commissioners level or the resumption of trade. However, this has not been possible largely because of the Pakistani side’s position on India’s abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir. Pakistan has painted itself into a very tight corner by asking India to withdraw this move. That's not going to happen and certainly not in response to a Pakistani demand. That's where things stand at the moment.

Your book, India’s Pakistan Conundrum, dives into why Pakistan is the way it is: its ethnic divisions, its failing economy and the dominance of the armed forces in national life. What are the three things Indians must understand about Pakistan’s history but don’t?

I think there is largely a good appreciation in India of Pakistan's history. Sometimes in our justified anger against Pakistan, we tend to exaggerate these things. For example, we in India broadly know how the civil-military equation in Pakistan came about. Indians know Pakistan’s ethnic faultlines, the dominance of Punjabis and religious extremism.

There are one or two things for which there has not been complete appreciation in India. The first is the reasons why Pakistan's economy keeps on breaking down. It's just a matter of satisfaction in India when Pakistan reaches this stage every now and then. What I point out in my book is that this is going to happen time and again, unless Pakistan changes its internal and external orientation. Internally, lots of privileges are given to certain groups while externally, Pakistan has an adversarial relationship with a much bigger and better endowed neighbour in India. On religious extremism, we focus more on terrorism against India. But, we need to realise that this is a phenomenon which has been encouraged actively in Pakistan, both by politicians serving their own ends and by the army.

There is much talk about a US-Pakistan reset. The F-16 sustainment package was one example of Washington and Islamabad working together. Should New Delhi be worried?

The US-Pakistan relationship has been largely transactional, whether it was the Cold War Alliance or Pakistan becoming a frontline state on the War on Terror after 9/11. The Americans needed Pakistan’s strategic location and Pakistan needed an external patron to underwrite economically and militarily, its ambitions vis a vis a much bigger neighbour like India.

Riaz Haq said…
US leverages India-Pakistan differences for its own interest: Sharad Sabharwal

https://www.livemint.com/news/world/us-leverages-india-pakistan-differences-for-its-own-interest-sharad-sabharwal-11666696757587.html

This relationship came to an end when the Taliban took over in Afghanistan and the American left in complete state of disarray. The relationship was then blocked primarily because Imran Khan didn't agree to cooperate with their counterterrorism work in Afghanistan. That seems to be changing with the new government and so another transactional relationship seems to be developing. Americans have all along leveraged India-Pakistan differences to promote their relationship with their own interests in the region.

There are also increasing reports of military supplies, especially artillery shells, from Pakistan to Ukraine. The Americans would be very satisfied with that. There is also the regional angle. One part of this is China and the Americans keep on hoping they can wean Pakistan away from China. However, that's not going to happen. Lastly, it's also a signal to India in the context of India's position on Ukraine and buying more oil from Russia.

Your book does not pull any punches in its description of the challenges facing India and Pakistan. Yet, you see some silver linings emerging in Pakistan. Could you tell us what they are?

These are some positive developments that have taken place in Pakistan over recent years. These are still not strong enough to counter the entrenched interests, especially Pakistan’s security establishment, but we must take note of them. These trends must grow if Pakistan is ever to become a sensible state with which we can have a normal relationship.

First, we must realise that there is a large constituency in Pakistan which realises the value of a stable relationship with India. It's not because they've suddenly come to like India. They simply realise that it's good for their own interest. This constituency includes large segments of the business and industry, who tend to gain in open trade with India. It also includes politicians of major political parties who are capable of winning elections on their own without intervention of the army. It also includes members of the civil society including some sections of the academic community and the media. Second, the national discourse in Pakistan has become far more introspective today than ever before. During the 1990’s, there was too much self-righteousness in their national discourse. That is all gone now. Pakistanis suffered a terror backlash from the forces they reared. I was in the country and saw what was happening to Pakistan at that time.

There is also a very widespread realisation amongst the Pakistanis regarding the growing gap between India and Pakistan and that it is not going to be closed with old policies.

A prominent Pakistani diplomat once wrote a book about India-Pakistan ties and titled it “Why can’t we just be friends?". In your opinion, will that ever happen?

I don’t think it will happen in the foreseeable future. Positive steps can be taken. A ceasefire is already in place and has held since February 2021. At some stage, trade will resume and diplomatic relations may be upgraded back to High Commissioners level.

But we can’t have a completely normal relationship as long as Pakistan is a dysfunctional state. One side of the government tries to improve the relationship while the other side spikes it. My conclusion is that factors like Pakistan’s civil-military imbalance, which cause this dysfunction, are immutable in the foreseeable future. Miracles can always happen but a reasonable assessment would say that complete normalisation is ruled out for now. That doesn't mean we don't try to manage this relationship by stabilising it as much as we can.
Riaz Haq said…
In spite of Modi's best efforts, Pakistani culture still finds a lot of admirers in India.

Although Indian government has banned airing of Pakistani content on Indian TV channels, Pakistani food, fashion, music and entertainment are still popular in India. Examples include Shan masala, dresses by fashion designers like Sana Safinaz, Coke Studio, HUM TV dramas, films like Maula Jatt etc etc.

A lot of Pakistani music and entertainment are available in India and elsewhere via steaming platforms like Spotify and Netflix which younger audiences enjoy.

Pakistani products like Shan masala and women's dresses can be purchased online via Amazon and other e-commerce sites.

Please check out the following:


"Why Pakistan's Shan masalas have a cult following in India"
The Pakistani packaged masala brand has many fans in India, despite a somewhat erratic supply chain. What makes it so popular?


https://lifestyle.livemint.com/food/discover/why-shan-masalas-have-a-cult-following-in-india-111634475574983.html


"The Pop Song That’s Uniting India and Pakistan"


https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/the-pop-song-thats-uniting-india-and-pakistan

"10 landmark Pakistani shows that were hugely popular in India"

https://www.indiatoday.in/television/soaps/story/10-landmark-pakistani-shows-that-were-hugely-popular-in-india-lifetv-345116-2016-10-05
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan's top gun seeks U.S.-China balance before retirement
Gen. Bajwa's diplomatic ambitions clash with domestic political tensions

https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Asia-Insight/Pakistan-s-top-gun-seeks-U.S.-China-balance-before-retirement


With the clock ticking on his expected retirement, Pakistan's all-powerful army chief, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, paid a long-delayed visit to Washington in early October. Some saw it as a valedictory trip. Others speculated that it was a signal he intends to stay on after his term ends next month, just as he secured an extension in 2019.

Either way, Bajwa's mission was clear: shoring up a crucial diplomatic relationship undermined by years of distrust, at a time when Islamabad faces an unprecedented storm of challenges, including political turmoil inflamed last Friday by the disqualification of former Prime Minister Imran Khan from holding public office.

Sources with firsthand knowledge of the general's recent meetings paint a picture of Pakistan seeking nothing less than a new arrangement with the U.S. -- one that balances ties with China, helps decrease tensions with India and boosts the struggling economy, while sustaining military relations.

Forging such a broad relationship would normally be up to civilian diplomats. Indeed, new Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari recently made his own lengthy stateside trip. But few would deny that it is the commander of the 600,000-man army and the only nuclear-armed Islamic military who wields the most clout in Pakistan, where the elected leadership relies on the top brass's patronage to stay in office.

As whispers swirl over Bajwa's future and who might succeed him -- late last week the general himself declared he is retiring -- a key question is whether his outreach to the U.S. can usher Pakistan onto firmer footing. The South Asian country's weak government is wrestling with high debt, dwindling foreign exchange reserves, catastrophic flooding and a raucous opposition further riled by Khan's disqualification.

Over the course of six days, from Oct. 1 to 6, the general held a flurry of meetings with senior officials from the State Department, Defense Department, the National Security Council and the intelligence community. According to one official familiar with the proceedings, Bajwa presented a vision for a bilateral relationship "much like the Americans' understanding with South Korea."

"He told them that we'd like to be a strategic partner of the U.S. not in name, but in action," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. The message was that there should be "a wider net connecting us -- infrastructure, tech, health and trade -- and not just the military and defense ties that we've depended on for decades."

Alluding to Pakistan's dire economic straits, the official noted the country can be a "more useful partner" if it is doing well. "Frankly, we'd rather [the Americans] invest in us."

While the Pentagon issued only a brief statement about the general's visit, commemorating 75 years of diplomatic relations, the State Department made a clear disclaimer: Pakistan's civilian government, and not the military that has ruled the country directly or indirectly since independence in 1947, is America's "primary interlocutor."

Still, another source confirmed that U.S. "follow-ups" to the general's visit are underway across different departments.

Bajwa's trip made it apparent that the U.S. wants Pakistan's advice on Afghanistan, particularly how to help Afghan women. A source said that Bajwa was consulted about the women at every meeting, and that he offered ideas such as incentivizing the Taliban to allow women to study and work by sponsoring all-female schools and hospitals.

Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan's top gun seeks U.S.-China balance before retirement
Gen. Bajwa's diplomatic ambitions clash with domestic political tensions

https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Asia-Insight/Pakistan-s-top-gun-seeks-U.S.-China-balance-before-retirement


Moreover, the U.S. and other partners last week removed Pakistan from the Financial Action Task Force's terrorism financing "gray list," after major efforts by Bajwa's security agencies.

But to restore its Cold War-era position as a trusted U.S. partner, Islamabad has its work cut out. Pakistan has lost America's confidence due to its support for the Taliban in Afghanistan, its tilt toward China, its never-ending rivalry with India and its expanding nuclear arsenal.

"Pakistanis have to be careful not to start expecting a return to the relationship of the past," warned Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's former ambassador to Washington and now a director of Central and South Asia at the Hudson Institute.

"At the same time, there is now potential for a new relationship," he added. "It will be based on a more realistic assessment, hopefully by both sides, of what the two countries can do for another. ... Pragmatic engagement is the only viable way forward."

Michael Kugelman, director of the South Asia Institute at the Wilson Center, observed, "Given that the visit came at a moment when U.S.-Pakistan relations have shown signs of a resurgence, it can also be seen as another data point indicating that the relationship is stabilizing after some years of uncertainty."

Yet Pakistan still has a serious reputation problem.

On Oct. 13, U.S. President Joe Biden called Pakistan "one of the most dangerous nations in the world," possessing "nuclear weapons without any cohesion." The rebuke was made on the campaign trail, but it propelled Islamabad to summon the American ambassador. The next day, a bipartisan resolution was tabled in the U.S. House of Representatives, declaring that the Pakistani military had committed genocide in 1971 against its citizens.

One Pakistani diplomat said the country's "toxic branding" does not afford it much leverage. He pointed out that although U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin invited Bajwa to Washington back in 2021, partly out of appreciation for the Pakistani military's contribution to the Afghanistan evacuation last year, "publicly, the U.S. couldn't, or wouldn't, be thankful to Pakistan, because we are associated in America with being pro-Taliban ... and behind bringing them back to power."

A wave of anti-Americanism triggered by the ouster of former Prime Minister Khan in April is not helping. The born-again-Muslim populist blames the Pakistani military and the Americans for orchestrating "regime change" through a no-confidence vote. Khan's message resonates despite a lack of evidence. This month, his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party swept a series of parliamentary by-elections, winning six out of seven contested seats.

Even so, the government -- or more precisely, the military -- has refused to accept Khan's demand for a snap general election. And now Khan's disqualification, which he is appealing, has thrown his fate into doubt.

In Washington, sources said that Bajwa, in addition to laying out a new vision for the relationship, explained Pakistan's positions on a wide range of regional issues, even the prospect of opening up relations with Israel.

Regarding China, sources said U.S. officials cautioned Bajwa about Islamabad's proximity to Beijing and the need to adhere to a rules-based order, even as they claimed to understand the compulsions of the neighbors' "all weather" friendship. Islamabad owes Beijing $29.82 billion -- about 30% of its total external debt -- in bilateral and commercial loans, according to recent International Monetary Fund figures.

Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan's top gun seeks U.S.-China balance before retirement
Gen. Bajwa's diplomatic ambitions clash with domestic political tensions

https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Asia-Insight/Pakistan-s-top-gun-seeks-U.S.-China-balance-before-retirement


On India, Bajwa assured senior administration officials that the cease-fire at the Line of Control -- the heavily militarized de facto border in Kashmir -- has been "holding very well," according to an official.


The source said Bajwa also noted that "the diplomatic vitriol between New Delhi and Islamabad had reduced over the last couple of years," despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu-nationalist government and anti-Muslim politics within India. On the other hand, according to the official, Bajwa reiterated that India's suspension of Kashmir's autonomous status in 2019 put bilateral ties in a very difficult place.

Critically, Gen. Bajwa is said to have moved away from a long-held Pakistani position, conceding that Islamabad does not expect the U.S. to play an intermediary role with India for now. "We have to act like big boys and figure this out between ourselves and the Indians," said a diplomat present in the meetings. "We told them that if we improve our position, the U.S. can act as a natural back door [for] talking to India. But first, both sides have to take concrete steps towards peace."

On the military front, Pakistan is too broke to buy new equipment, but diplomats said the general sought to sustain existing agreements.

Much of Pakistan's front-line hardware, including F-16 fighter-bombers, is U.S.-made. Just a month before the visit, the Pentagon announced that it would be servicing a $450 million F-16 sustainment package for the Pakistan Air Force. There are also agreements for Pakistani military officers to be trained at U.S. military colleges and academies.

According to two Pakistani officials, Bajwa wanted an answer on the continuity of service and upgrades. "For legacy systems, sustenance packages and maintenance supplies that are owed to our purchases, it is their responsibility," said an officer. "We said to them: just say yes or no, so we have clarity."

A source said that "follow-up teams" are exploring "creative solutions" for giving the financially-strapped Pakistanis access to more American equipment -- if not directly, then by leasing hardware from common partners. These could include "F-16s from the Jordanian Air Force, which has many of the fighters and doesn't really need them because of Jordan's peaceful regional dynamics, or even decommissioned frigates from the U.S. Navy, which cost less money and require less red tape."
Despite covering so much ground, some analysts are skeptical about how much Bajwa's visit achieved.

"There were no specific asks or gets," said Shuja Nawaz, a distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council. "Normalization has been going on for some time. But the reality is that bilateral financial assistance -- the need of the hour -- is extremely low, and is not going to increase as a result of this visit."

Back home, the timing of Bajwa's visit, unusually close to the end of his tenure, added an element of controversy. His intentions are still being debated, with Twitter threads and WhatsApp groups -- but not censored mainstream media -- war gaming different scenarios: him taking up an advisory role in the Middle East or another extension.

Despite his imminent exit, the nearly 62-year-old, four-star Punjabi infantry officer continues to make waves politically.

Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan's top gun seeks U.S.-China balance before retirement
Gen. Bajwa's diplomatic ambitions clash with domestic political tensions

https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Asia-Insight/Pakistan-s-top-gun-seeks-U.S.-China-balance-before-retirement


Soon after arriving back in Pakistan on Oct. 8, he issued an open warning: The army will never allow any "country, group or force to politically or economically destabilize Pakistan." This was seen as a barely veiled threat to Imran Khan to call off plans for a civil disobedience movement.

Days later, investigators arrested -- and allegedly stripped and roughed up -- Khan's deputy, Azam Swati, over "obnoxious and intimidating" tweeting against Bajwa. Swati had questioned the general's apparent support for incumbent Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his family.

Although Bajwa has said the military does not want to interfere in politics, reality appears more complex. In September and October, phone and personal conversations between Khan and his top advisers, as well as Sharif and his staff, were leaked on social media. The leaks were seemingly edited and timed to put both the government and opposition on the back foot. Analysts say such tradecraft can presumably be attributed to the military-run intelligence apparatus, and designed to curb the ambitions and power of the civilians.

At a recent rally, a visibly angry Khan questioned if the military's job was to protect the country or spy on its leaders.

Pakistan's record on press freedom under Bajwa is also under scrutiny. The authorities in Pakistan are known for pressuring the media, and suspicions have long swirled over extrajudicial killings, with 89 journalists killed since 2002 including 13 during Bajwa's term since 2016, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists database. When Bajwa was asked about press freedom while in the U.S., he initially denied knowledge of such pressure, according to a source. When pressed, the source said he suggested that Pakistan lacks legal means such as gag orders, so the authorities resort to other measures.

If Bajwa's tenure is indeed coming to an end, as he insists, he will leave behind a tattered economy, a polarized polity, rising insurgencies and a wave of populism that could upend traditional power structures.

It may take more than mere generals to fix the myriad problems of the Islamic republic.

Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan leader Shehbaz Sharif to make first visit to China next week

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3197332/pakistan-leader-shehbaz-sharif-make-first-visit-china-next-week

Prime minister will be joined by Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari for two-day trip
Sharif will meet President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and head of the legislature Li Zhanshu

Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will travel to China next week, soon after a reshuffle of Beijing’s top leadership.
Sharif will visit China from November 1 at the invitation of outgoing Premier Li Keqiang, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Wednesday.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry said it would be a two-day trip and that Sharif would be joined by Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
It will be the Pakistani leader’s first visit to China – the South Asian country’s long-time close ally – since he took power after Imran Khan was ousted in a no-confidence vote in April.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Sharif was among the first foreign leaders to be invited to China after last week’s Communist Party congress, at which Xi Jinping secured a third term as its chief and unveiled a new leadership line-up.

“China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic partners and ‘hardcore’ friends,” Wang told reporters in Beijing on Wednesday.
“China looks forward to working with Pakistan to use this visit as an opportunity to further promote all-weather and high-level strategic cooperation, to build a closer China-Pakistan community with a shared future in the new era, and to make greater contributions to maintaining regional peace and stability, and international fairness and justice.”
Wang said President Xi, Premier Li and Li Zhanshu, head of China’s legislature, would meet Sharif during his visit. The two sides are expected to exchange views on the development of bilateral relations and international and regional issues.


Sharif’s visit comes as Pakistan’s economy is struggling in the wake of political turmoil earlier this year, and amid a devastating flood season that has caused more than 1,600 deaths and displaced millions.
Sharif expressed gratitude to China early this month after Beijing provided more than 644 million yuan (US$88 million) in aid to Pakistan. China has also sent disaster relief supplies and experts to help manage the flood situation since it started in June.

Pakistan’s leader is also likely to raise its debt issues with his Chinese counterparts in Beijing, after the country asked China to roll over its US$6.3 billion debt on Saturday.
The two nations signed a loan facility agreement in June, with Chinese banks lending US$2.3 billion to Pakistan to help boost its reserves.
Sharif is one of several foreign leaders to visit China following the ruling party’s twice-a-decade national congress. On Tuesday it was announced that Vietnamese Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong would travel to China on Sunday.


And German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Friday confirmed he would visit China in November with a delegation of business leaders. He is expected to discuss trade and other issues, amid tensions over visits to Taiwan by German lawmakers.
Scholz refused to confirm whether he would travel to China with French President Emmanuel Macron, who will reportedly meet Xi for separate talks next month.
Riaz Haq said…
Pak-Saudi reset
The countries have reiterated their resolve to graduate their relations to new heights

https://tribune.com.pk/story/2383539/pak-saudi-reset


Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have reiterated their resolve to graduate their relations to new heights, and agreed to work collectively on issues of regional and international concerns. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who was on a whirlpool visit to the Kingdom, to iron out the upcoming itinerary of Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammad bin Salman’s visit to Pakistan, took the opportunity to seek renewed investment in Pakistan, and assured that the country is striving to pull out of degeneration through forward-looking policies. Riyadh had been of great support in cushioning Pakistan’s economy in times of crisis. It has recently rolled over its $3 billion cash tranche for another year. Besides, the assistance in the wake of monsoon destruction is highly valued, and the PM made it a point to thank Royal leadership for their sustained generosity.

The visit will make way for Prince Salman’s visit to Islamabad next month, wherein he is scheduled to open new investment opportunities. Saudi Arabia has already signed MoUs and other protocols for over $20 billion investment in refinery and other power sector avenues, and the leadership will take a review of it, accordingly. Shehbaz also addressed the ‘Future Investment Initiative’ conference and underlined the importance of clean energy resources, as well as other multifaceted aspects that can be tapped bilater- ally. The Middle Eastern state is home to Pakistan’s biggest diaspora, and expatriates are the backbone of the economy who funnel in more than a billion dollars per month.

Shehbaz’s two-day sojourn has come at a time when Pakistan is passing through a critical phase of instability and economic hardship. The PM is scheduled to fly into China in the next couple of days, and it seems the visits are part of grand initiatives to pull the economy out of slumber, and kick-start a new phase of development. The rapidly evolving power equation in the region, especially in the backdrop of the Saudi-US tension, has poised a new fulcrum and Pakistan’s tilt is of immense importance on either side. This is where Islamabad’s proactive diplomacy counts, and is a tangible factor in realpolitik.


Riaz Haq said…
As Pakistan's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will start his visit to China on Tuesday, China expresses a warm welcome and looks forward to further promoting high-level strategic cooperation with Pakistan, including the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson of China's Foreign Ministry, said on Monday.

https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202210/1278381.shtml

According to China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the country's top economic planner, the 11th JCC was held by videoconference on Thursday, with both sides vowing to promote the high-quality construction of the CPEC and build a China-Pakistan community of shared destiny.

During the meeting, Lin Nianxiu, vice chairman of the NDRC, said that China has always attached great importance to China-Pakistan relations, which have endured the test of international changes for more than 70 years and remained rock-solid.

Since the 10th JCC, China and Pakistan have promoted the construction of the corridor with fruitful results amid a time of challenging conditions, Lin said, adding that the two countries will strengthen cooperation to ensure the smooth construction and operation of CPEC projects.

Moreover, the two sides will expand cooperation fields to empower the construction of the corridor and ensure the safety of project construction and personnel. "China will pragmatically promote the high-quality operation of the CPEC and create demonstration projects under the BRI in a bid to build a China-Pakistan community of shared destiny in the new era," Lin noted.

Ahsan Iqbal, Pakistan's federal minister for planning development and special initiatives, said that the CPEC has emerged as the top national priority of the Pakistan-China All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership, according to a report published by the ministry.

According to the report, all important memorandums of understanding (MOU) will be signed during Sharif's visit to China.

"During the visit, leaders from the two countries will likely discuss the consensuses that were reached in the 11th JCC, in fields such as energy, infrastructure construction, advanced technology and agricultural cooperation," Liu Zongyi, secretary-general of the Research Center for China-South Asia Cooperation at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, told the Global Times on Monday.

During the meeting, Iqbal also noted that after Pakistan was hit by severe floods this year, the Chinese government and people generously assisted the country in disaster relief and post-disaster reconstruction, fully reflecting the "ironclad" friendship between the two countries.

Since the 10th JCC, the construction of the CPEC has achieved many milestones, further enhancing economic ties between the two countries and promoting regional peace, stability and prosperity, Iqbal said.

The corridor has entered the second phase of high-quality development, and Pakistan will do its utmost to realize the great vision of the two leaders, providing security and relevant policy support for Chinese personnel, institutions and projects in Pakistan, in a bid to make Pakistan a more attractive investment destination, the minister noted.

During the meeting, the Joint Working Groups on Energy, Transport Infrastructure, Gwadar, Industrial Cooperation, Science and Technology, and Agriculture Cooperation made presentations, reaching a series of important consensuses.

The JCC highlighted the significance of key projects for energy and infrastructure development, including power plants, motorways and highways, which have provided a myriad of opportunities for socioeconomic development in Pakistan.

"The decisions we take today will go a long way in furthering the aims of the CPEC, which has regained the momentum it had during 2013-18," the minister said in the report.
Riaz Haq said…
“The Chinese government likes Shehbaz Sharif personally and a number of the other figures in this government, and will generally want to do them some favours, but they are not certain in the medium term who will be running things,” said Andrew Small from the Asia programme of the German Marshall Fund, a Washington-based think tank.

https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/3197922/will-pakistans-all-weather-friend-china-offer-yet-more-cash-development-amid-political-turbulence


Political turbulence in Pakistan since 2017 has made China “less certain” about whether some of its long-term economic bets will “pay off if there aren’t governments that can sustain their commitments or a really solid political consensus behind these investments,” he added.
Since taking office in April, Sharif has prioritised the revival of the estimated US$62 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a Belt and Initiative programme connecting Xinjiang province to Pakistan’s Arabian Sea port of Gwadar.


Sharif hopes his coalition government’s efforts to fast-track the completion of lagging CPEC projects and target militant separatists who have carried out lethal attacks against Chinese nationals have been enough to persuade Beijing to pay huge amounts for mass transit and power generation schemes.
“There have certainly been tactical issues” between Beijing and Islamabad over security and delayed payments to Chinese-owned power projects, said Mustafa Hyder Sayed, executive director of the Pakistan China Institute in Islamabad.
“But strategically the alignment is very robust. Particularly in the wake of the accelerated big power [between nations] competition, we see there are more and more convergences and shared interests with Beijing,” he said.

The US national security strategy unveiled on October 12 prioritised the building of strategic relations with India, with which China and Pakistan have both fought wars over territorial claims.

China knows a “stable and strong” Pakistan is in “the national interest of the People’s Republic,” Sayed said.
Small said Pakistan’s security situation will be at the top of Beijing’s agenda in talks, because of the killing of 13 Chinese nationals in terrorist attacks by Taliban insurgents and ethnic Baloch separatists since July 2021.
During a recent meeting with Sharif during the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Uzbekistan, President Xi Jinping hoped Pakistan would protect “the security of Chinese citizens and institutions in Pakistan as well as the lawful rights and interests of Chinese businesses”.

The killing by suicide bomb of nine Chinese men working on the Dasu hydropower project was “a particular shock to the Chinese government, even more so than some of the soft target attacks in Karachi”, said Small.
Beijing’s overall view is that between the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP – the Pakistani Taliban) and the Baloch insurgency, there has been a serious deterioration in the security environment and not enough is being done to protect Chinese workers, Small said, delaying projects’ progress and increasing the risk that China will pull personnel out.
It also means Beijing may use more of its own security staff.
Pakistan has recently arrested the leaders of Baloch insurgent cells responsible for attacks on Chinese nationals in the province of Balochistan and the port city of Karachi, said Abdul Basit, a research fellow at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.

China is also maintaining pressure on the Taliban in Afghanistan to rein in the approximately 5,000 Pakistani Taliban insurgents it hosts, he said.
Despite a Taliban-brokered ceasefire agreed in June, the TTP has launched daily lethal attacks against the security forces and police in the northwest of the country since negotiations broke down in late July.
A major military operation in Pakistan’s tribal districts bordering Afghanistan “is in the offing”, Basit said.
“Beijing is concerned, but it has full trust in the Pakistan Army’s counterterrorism capabilities,” he added.
Riaz Haq said…
#China to #US: Ties with #Pakistan ‘none of your business’. China Expert Yun Sun: “China has plenty of confidence that its relationship with Pakistan is going to continue regardless of the modality of US-Pakistan relations.” #CPEC #India #XiJingping https://www.dawn.com/news/1718723


Speaking at a two-day seminar on US-Pakistan relations, Chinese foreign policy expert Yun Sun said Pakistan’s relationship with the US was a factor in China’s overall strategy for South Asia, but “China has plenty of confidence that its relationship with Pakistan is going to continue regardless of the modality of US-Pakistan relations.”

She, however, said that China was also adjusting or recalibrating its policy and expectations towards Pakistan, especially in terms of the CPEC.

“And from that recalibration there’s almost a welcoming attitude in China that Pakistan should re-balance its external strategy. And there’s a welcoming attitude that Pakistan is reaching out to the United States again,” Ms Yun said.

“This readjustment of Pakistan’s expectations and external alignment strategy has much approval in China.”

The Chinese, she said, did not believe that the recalibration of US-Pakistan relations would come at the expense of China’s interests in the region “because India’s still there and because CPEC will remain one of the most significant campaigns regardless of how people feel about it.”

About China’s reaction to US-Pakistan interactions, she said, “[it] has more to do with what the US has said, rather than what Pakistan has said.

“This is none of your business,” said Ms Yun when asked about China’s reaction to the US suggestion that Pakistan should renegotiate its debt with Beijing.

---

“Dan, is it none of our business?” Moderator Shamila Chaudhary asked another panelist, Daniel Markey of the US Institute of Peace (USIP).

“At some level, of course, it is our business… We look at its debt burden… have concerns about the growth of its economy. We see Pakistan going to the IMF and other lenders. So, of course, it’s right that the US asks questions about the other forms of debts that Pakistan holds, including from China,” he said. “Gap in transparency is also a cause of concern for us.”

Pakistan’s envoy in Washington, Masood Khan, however, explained how the end of the war in Afghanistan had created an opportunity for Pakistan and the United States to start afresh.

“Pakistan-US relations have been de-hyphenated from India and Afghanistan,” said Ambassador Khan in his keynote address at the two-day conference, organised by the Center for Security, Strategy and Policy Research (CSSPR), University of Lahore, the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, and Engro Corporation here this week.

“The US policy in the past was based on regional equilibrium,” the ambassador said, adding that the US relationship with India stood on its own. “We are engaged right now to recalibrate, reenergise and rejuvenate a broad-based relationship in the new technological age,” he said.

Others were not as confident. Former Chief of Naval Staff Tahir Afzal suggested correcting past mistakes to build a better relationship. “The relationship needs another event. When there is an event, the relations will be good. When the event is over, we will move from being the cornerstone of US policy to being the most sanctioned country,” he said.

Riaz Haq said…
#China to #US: Ties with #Pakistan ‘none of your business’. China Expert Yun Sun: “China has plenty of confidence that its relationship with Pakistan is going to continue regardless of the modality of US-Pakistan relations.” #CPEC #India #XiJingping https://www.dawn.com/news/1718723


Ms Chaudhary, a non-resident Senior Fellow at Atlantic Council, noted that Pakistan was not even mentioned in the new US national security strategy, released last month, although “there’s a lot of conversation” about the region, as well as Afghanistan and India.

“The strategy is talking around Pakistan, but if you look at the themes of strategy …there’s a lot of fruitful conversation that we can have about how US and Pakistan can collaborate with each other.”

Mr Markey noted that some equate strategic stability in Pakistan with the safety of its nuclear assets. Noting that this was “a very narrow context,” he said, Pakistan was also strategically important to the US because “it’s an enormous country”.

The nuclear issue, however, was “central to the US interests” as it would like to “ensure that these types of weapons are never used”.

The nuclear issue was also “central to Pakistan’s sense of its own security. It is at the core of Pakistan’s security in the region. So, that continues to be a strategic concern,” he said.

Mr Markey noted that the US has a strategic partnership with India, while Pakistan has a strategic partnership with China and this arrangement too has become strategically important as US-China and Pakistan-India relations are strained. The US and Pakistan, he said, “need a firm and established equilibrium… to move forward”.
Riaz Haq said…
Another $13bn incoming from China, S. Arabia

https://www.dawn.com/news/1719075


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Friday said to have secured about $13 billion in additional financial support from two traditional friends — about $9bn from China and over $4bn from Saudi Arabia — on top of assurances for about $20bn investments.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar told journalists that during Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s recent visit to Beijing, the Chinese leadership promised to roll over $4bn in sovereign loans, refinance $3.3bn commercial bank loans and increase currency swap by about $1.45bn — from 30bn yuan to 40bn yuan. The total worked out at $8.75bn.

“They promised the security of financial support,” Mr Dar said and quoted Chinese President Xi Jinping as telling Mr Sharif to “don’t worry, we will not let you down”.

Mr Dar said the Pakistani delegation had four major engagements, including meeting with the Chinese president and the prime minister, and the chairman of the National People’s Congress, the country’s legislature.


These would be rolled over whenever they reach maturity, the minister said, adding that about $200 million worth of commercial loans had already flowed in a few days back.

Responding to a question, Mr Dar said the Chinese side had also agreed to fast-track the processing for a $9.8bn high-speed rail project (Main Line-1) from Karachi to Peshawar and both sides would immediately trigger their respective teams.

Another official said the two sides were hoping to arrange bidding for the project by December and negotiations for financing terms and conditions could follow once a bidder is selected.

Mr Dar said the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) and Hyderabad-Karachi motorway projects were also taken up and the KCR would soon be in the implementation phase. The minister said he had also suggested a part of outstanding dues of Chinese power producers to be converted into overall debt stock and had already cleared about Rs160bn in recent months.

Responding to a question, he said Saudi Arabia had also “given a positive response” to Pakistan’s request for increasing its financing by another $3bn to $6bn and doubling its deferred oil facility of $1.2bn.

The two heads worked out at $4.2bn and the finance minister said there was no delay except a month or so of processing time.

Mr Dar said Saudi Arabia had also agreed to revive the $10-12bn petrochemical refining project at Gwadar, for which he had been assigned by the prime minister to coordinate with respective ministries for finalisation.

On top of that, the minister said Pakistan was engaging Saudi Arabia in privatisation transactions like in LNG power projects and shares in other entities to ensure non-debt creating foreign inflows.

Moreover, the minister said another $1.4bn worth of inflows were almost mature, including $500m from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and two World Bank loans of $900m under the national harmonisation of general sales tax.

He said he had a positive meeting with the Sindh chief minister to harmonise GST and the financing envelope could be settled amicably. He noted that harmonising GST was important for World Bank inflows to arrive in the country.

On the exchange rate, the minister insisted that the rupee’s real effective exchange rate (REER) was around Rs194 per dollar, even lower than Rs200. He expected the stakeholders to also keep in mind the national interest instead of “just outrageous profitmaking”.

Pakistan had been engaging with China and Saudi Arabia for financial support, including rolling over maturing loans as part of arrangements for about $35bn putouts against debt and liabilities during the current fiscal year. The minister parried a question relating to the extension in debt repayments of Chinese independent power producers (IPPs).
Riaz Haq said…
Optimising CPEC
Muhammad Amir Rana Published November 6, 2022


https://www.dawn.com/news/1719296


PAKISTAN is finally getting back on the right diplomatic track. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s successful visits to Riyadh and Beijing have created an air of optimism regarding economic revival in the country. Army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa’s attempts to normalise the country’s relationship with the West using channels in London and Washington are also helping to reduce the external pressure which had been looming over the country for the last several months. That Pakistan is no longer on the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) ‘grey list’ is also a good omen.

During the prime minister’s visit to Beijing, China had assured full support for Pakistan’s efforts to stabilise its economy and financial situation. The Pakistani prime minister was the first foreign leader to travel to China since President Xi Jinping won his third term as supreme leader. That has political and strategic significance as well, which is also needed to boost Pakistan’s economic confidence. Earlier, during the prime minister’s visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia reportedly pledged an investment package worth $10 billion for Pakistan. Islamabad is hopeful that the kingdom will resuscitate the mega oil refinery project, which was shelved due to some political complications that had arisen between the two states during the rule of the PTI government.

Gen Bajwa has been successful, for the most part, in repairing the country’s trust deficit with the West, mainly the US, which is essential for generating regional geopolitical balance for Pakistan. These are positive developments which the coalition government and the establishment could use to gain domestic support, as the ongoing political crisis has put them both in a defensive position.

Pakistan had lost its balance in its foreign relations over the last few years. The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, and the cipher controversy propagated by former prime minister Imran Khan were the two key events that aggravated that imbalance and caused bitterness in Pakistan’s relationship with the US and the West.


Two other factors caused diplomatic stress for Pakistan. First, Pakistan’s decision to join the short-lived alternative Muslim leadership initiative led by Turkey, Iran, and Malaysia annoyed its friends in the Gulf. Secondly, the Chinese did not like the attempts by the outgoing PTI government to renegotiate the costs of CPEC projects and establish the CPEC Authority. Mr Khan presumed that most of the CPEC projects were scarcely negotiated or done so in a skewed manner. The establishment also believed he could convince China to renegotiate CPEC projects as Malaysia had done the same. However, our power elites ignored the fact that sovereign guarantees were involved in the projects. This reorientation discourse slowed down the CPEC projects.


Mr Khan was not solely responsible for making errors of judgement. It was a collective mistake on the part of the power elites who were overconfident that they could manoeuvre a relationship with their allies in the East and West, despite the country’s weak economy and the crippling impact of the Covid-19 impact on the global economy. The establishment wanted complete control, and Mr Khan joined the venture to remove the tag of PML-N from the CPEC projects.


Riaz Haq said…
#Russia Wants To Participate In The #China-#Pakistan Economic Corridor. Russia’s vision for its Greater Eurasian Partnership (GEP) passes through the #CPEC, as part of China’s #BRI. #Afghanistan #India #Eurasia | OilPrice.com https://oilprice.com/Geopolitics/International/Russia-Wants-To-Participate-In-The-China-Pakistan-Economic-Corridor.html?utm_source=tw&utm_medium=tw_repost #oilprice

By Jamestown Foundation


On September 27, the Taliban government in Afghanistan disclosed a deal it signed with Russia to import petroleum products and wheat at a discounted rate (Al Jazeera, September 28). The deal came days before Russia agreed to provide petrol to Pakistan on deferred payments and extend its gas pipeline infrastructure in Central Asia to the Islamic republic (see EDM, October 5).

In truth, Russia has been seeking expanded ties in Southwest Asia in recent months. Moscow’s deepening involvement with Pakistan and Afghanistan is all about preparing for Russia’s entry into the $62 billion China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the flagship project of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Russia’s growing interest in the CPEC comes against the backdrop of budding Russian-Pakistani relations over the past few years. Moscow was willing to join the CPEC in 2016 when it requested Islamabad to allow Russia to use Gwadar Port for its exports. This strategically located port along the Arabian Sea in Pakistan’s Balochistan province is an essential part of the CPEC. Islamabad accorded approval to Moscow’s request, and then-Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, during his visit to Turkmenistan in November 2016, welcomed the Kremlin’s decision to join the project (Hindustan Times, November 26, 2016). In 2019, the two countries, during a meeting of the Pakistan-Russia Consultative Group on Strategic Stability in Islamabad, agreed to the proposed seven-point road map for boosting bilateral relations. The visiting Russian delegation was headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. Russian participation in the CPEC was among the seven points, which also included the signing of a free-trade agreement between Moscow and Islamabad as well as a deepening of strategic defense relations (Times of Islamabad, March 28, 2019).

What does joining the CPEC mean for Moscow in a strategic sense? In fact, Russia’s vision for its Greater Eurasian Partnership (GEP) passes through the CPEC, as part of China’s BRI. Through its participation in the CPEC, the Kremlin will seek to merge the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) with the BRI. In April 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced at the Second BRI Forum for International Cooperation that five EAEU member states had unanimously supported the idea of pairing the EAEU’s development with the BRI. Overall, an EAEU-BRI merger would be a real step forward in Moscow’s quest to realize the goals of the GEP, which, beyond connecting with the BRI, also include improving connectivity with Iran, India and Southeast Asia (Russiancouncil.ru, June 3, 2020). With its geostrategic location, which marks the confluence of South, Central and Southwest Asia, Pakistan has the strong potential to play a promising role in making the GEP a reality. Thus, Putin recently characterized Pakistan as one of Russia’s “priority partners” in Asia (see EDM, October 5).


Why does China want Russia to join the CPEC? Whereas Russia’s participation in the CPEC will strengthen and boost Sino-Russian cooperation and brighten prospects for economic integration in the region, it might also appease India, which is fiercely opposed to the CPEC traversing Pakistani regions claimed by New Delhi. China wants Russia to play its role in brokering a peace agreement between the two arch rivals—India and Pakistan—to save the CPEC (Pakistan Today, January 10, 2017).
Riaz Haq said…
Increasing U.S. Aid to Pakistan Is a Strategic and Moral Imperative
By increasing aid to Pakistan, the United States will propel forward its own strategic interests and fulfill humanitarian obligations while simultaneously helping this South Asian nation avert crisis.

Blog Post by Andrew Gordan, Guest Contributor


https://www.cfr.org/blog/increasing-us-aid-pakistan-strategic-and-moral-imperative

Pakistan faces a grave and growing crisis. In late summer, historic floods ravaged the South Asian nation, submerging a third of the country under water and displacing millions. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s economy has reached a breaking point and political unrest threatens to throw the nation into further disarray. At the climax of the floods, international media covered the disaster extensively and donor countries—including the United States—rushed in with pledges of assistance. As of November 2022, the United States has delivered $97 million in aid to Pakistan. However, this figure barely registers on the scale of Pakistan’s recovery requirements, estimated at $40 billion. Increasing assistance will not only avert the deepening crisis in Pakistan and fulfill U.S. humanitarian obligations, but will also serve U.S. strategic interests.

The scale of Pakistan’s predicament cannot be understated. Over 1,500 people died and 12,000 were injured in the summer floods. Infrastructure across Pakistan was crippled: thousands of kilometers of road and hundreds of bridges were destroyed, as well as almost two million homes.

Adding pressure in crisis, Pakistan is suffering from high inflation—roughly 26 percent year-on-year in October 2022—and low foreign exchange reserves. As prices for liquified natural gas skyrocket with the war in Ukraine, Pakistan is struggling to secure essential imports. The resumption of International Monetary Fund (IMF) funding in August has done little to plug the gaps. While bilateral creditors have offered debt relief, this is largely confined to allowing the postponement of payments in the short-term and the forgiveness of small amounts of debt.

Political tensions have also added to the challenges in Pakistan, hampering government capacity. After his ouster by a vote of no-confidence in April, former Prime Minister Imran Khan has consolidated his political popularity, challenged the sitting government to hold early elections, and survived an assassination attempt on November 3.

Riaz Haq said…
Blog Post by Andrew Gordan, Guest Contributor


https://www.cfr.org/blog/increasing-us-aid-pakistan-strategic-and-moral-imperative


The severity of these converging obstacles underscores the need for adequate U.S. aid to Pakistan. Unfortunately, these days Pakistan has few friends in Washington. Many U.S. observers have accused Pakistan of enabling the Afghan Taliban throughout the U.S. war in Afghanistan. In addition, advocates of the budding U.S.-India relationship worry that engagement with Pakistan might disrupt ties with the Modi administration. Concerns about corruption have also tarnished attempts to build support for more aid.

Despite these concerns, the United States should act to alleviate the crisis in Pakistan. On one hand, if the United States wants to honor its commitments to humanitarianism, aid to Pakistan should be a top moral priority. The Biden administration has pledged to “rally the world to meet our common challenges.” The destructive effects of climate change that Pakistan is suffering today is a common challenge. Furthermore, norms of environmental justice compel countries who built their riches on the degradation of the environment, like the United States, to help Pakistan, one of the world’s most climate-vulnerable nations and a negligible contributor to historical global emissions.

On the other hand, even American pragmatists should heed Pakistan’s need for aid. Catastrophe in Pakistan is not in the U.S. national interest. A destabilized Pakistan would spell disaster for regional security: a depleted Pakistani government would inevitably give regional militant groups like the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan more breathing room. In addition, a Pakistan in crisis would likely be less capable of performing its role at the center of the new U.S. “over-the-horizon” counter-terrorism strategy. Operations like the recent U.S. killing of Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri require Pakistani support, coordination, and airspace. Finally, as the United States seeks to counterbalance Chinese influence in South Asia, increased aid could capitalize on growing reservations in Pakistan about the tight-knit economic relationship with China.

So how should the United States assist Pakistan? For starters, the overall level of assistance should increase dramatically, as the $97 million pledged thus far will have a minimal impact on Pakistan’s predicament. The United States can help with the flood recovery in other ways: technical teams to support the construction of climate-resilient infrastructure and health supplies to address growing outbreaks of waterborne diseases, for example. The United States can also do more to address Pakistan’s financial health. The recent rollover of the suspension of payments on $132 million in debt was a good start, but the United States must continue to rally international debtors to suspend and restructure Pakistani debt, replenish foreign exchange reserves, and support crucial imports. The future of the South Asian nation, and U.S. regional interests, depend on it.
Riaz Haq said…
India is the lone absentee at China’s Indian Ocean forum of 19 countries
The forum, held in Kunming in southwestern Yunnan province on November 21, brought together representatives from 19 countries
November 26, 2022 07:08 pm

ANANTH KRISHNAN

https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/china-convenes-an-indian-ocean-forum-without-india/article66187608.ece


The forum was organised by CIDCA, China’s new development aid agency, and is currently headed by former Vice-Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui, who also earlier served as envoy to India and Pakistan.
The forum was organised by CIDCA, China’s new development aid agency, and is currently headed by former Vice-Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui, who also earlier served as envoy to India and Pakistan. | Photo Credit: Reuters

China this week convened a first “China-Indian Ocean Region Forum” bringing together 19 countries from the region – and all of India’s neighbours, except for India itself, the lone absentee from a new Beijing strategic initiative.

The forum, held in Kunming in southwestern Yunnan province on November 21, brought together representatives from 19 countries including Indonesia, Pakistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, Afghanistan, Iran, Oman, South Africa, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Seychelles, Madagascar, Mauritius, Djibouti, and Australia, according to a statement from the organisers, the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA).
Riaz Haq said…
India Absent, 19 Countries Attend China Forum's Indian Ocean Region Meet
India was reportedly not invited, according to informed sources.

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/china-holds-its-first-meeting-with-19-countries-in-indian-ocean-region-without-india-3555791


Beijing: China held a meeting this week with 19 countries from the Indian Ocean region in which India was conspicuously absent.
The China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA), an organisation connected with the Chinese Foreign Ministry held a meeting of the China-Indian Ocean Region Forum on Development Cooperation on November 21, in which 19 countries took part, according to a press release issued by the organisation.

The meeting was held in a hybrid manner under the theme of "Shared Development: Theory and Practice from the Perspective of the Blue Economy" in Kunming, Yunnan Province, it said.

Representatives of 19 countries, including Indonesia, Pakistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, Afghanistan, Iran, Oman, South Africa, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Seychelles, Madagascar, Mauritius, Djibouti, Australia and representatives of 3 international organisations were present, it said.

India was reportedly not invited, according to informed sources.

Last year, China held a meeting with some South Asian countries on COVID-19 vaccine cooperation without the participation of India.

CIDCA is headed by Luo Zhaohui, the former Vice Foreign Minister and Ambassador to India.

According to the official website of the organisation, he is the Secretary of the CPC (the ruling Communist Party of China) Leadership Group of CIDCA.

CIDCA's official website said the aims of the organisation is to formulate strategic guidelines, plans and policies for foreign aid, coordinate and offer advice on major foreign aid issues, advance the country's reforms in matters involving foreign aid, and identify major programmes, supervise and evaluate their implementation.

During his tour of Sri Lanka in January this year, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi proposed to establish a “forum on the development of Indian Ocean Island Countries.” When asked whether the CIDCA meeting is the same that is proposed by Wang, the Chinese Foreign Ministry here has clarified to the media that the November 21 meeting was not part of it.

At the November 21 meeting, China has proposed to establish a marine disaster prevention and mitigation cooperation mechanism between China and countries in the Indian Ocean region, the CIDCA press release said.

China is ready to provide necessary financial, material, and technical support to countries in need, it said.

China is vying for influence in the strategic Indian Ocean region with substantial investments in ports and infrastructure investments in several countries, including Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

While China has established a full-fledged naval base in Djibouti, its first outside the country, Beijing has acquired the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka on a 99-year lease besides building the port at Pakistan's Gwadar in the Arabian Sea opposite India's western coast besides infrastructure investments in the Maldives.

The Chinese forum apparently is aimed at countering India's strong influence in the Indian Ocean region where India-backed organisations like the Indian Ocean Rim Association, (IORA), which has a membership of 23 countries have taken strong roots.

China is a dialogue partner in the IORA formed in 1997.

IORA became an observer to the UN General Assembly and the African Union in 2015.

Besides the IORA, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has proposed “Security and Growth for All in the Region” (SAGAR) in 2015 for active cooperation among the littoral countries of the Indian Ocean region.

The Indian Navy-backed ‘Indian Ocean Naval Symposium' (IONS) seeks to increase maritime cooperation among navies of the region.

Since the June 2020 Galwan Valley clash between Chinese and Indian armies, bilateral ties have been severely hit.
Riaz Haq said…
Prashant Bhushan
@pbhushan1
Chair of the Jury of Goa Film Festival says that the Jury felt that Kashmir Files was a vulgar propaganda film, inappropriate for the film festival

https://twitter.com/pbhushan1/status/1597267078935121920?s=20&t=VvWYL05GgLYIyO8SpKmf4Q
Riaz Haq said…
Video: Indian Film Festival IFFI Jury Head Calls 'Kashmir Files' "Vulgar"
Calling it "propaganda" and a "vulgar movie", Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid, who headed the IFFI jury, said "all of them" were "disturbed and shocked" to see the film screened at the festival.

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/film-festival-iffi-jury-head-calls-the-kashmir-files-vulgar-propaganda-3560980

New Delhi: The jury of 53rd International Film Festival in Goa has slammed the controversial movie "The Kashmir Files", which revolves around the killings and exodus of Kashmiri Pandits in 1990 from Kashmir Valley. Calling it "propaganda" and a "vulgar movie", Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid, who headed the IFFI jury, said "all of them" were "disturbed and shocked" to see the film screened at the festival.
"It seemed to us like a propagandist movie inappropriate for an artistic, competitive section of such a prestigious film festival. I feel totally comfortable to share openly these feelings here with you on stage. Since the spirit of having a festival is to accept also a critical discussion which is essential for art and for life," Mr Lapid said in his address.

The Anupam Kher, Mithun Chakraborty and Pallavi Joshi starrer, directed by Vivek Agnihotri, was featured in the "Panorama" section of the festival last week.


The film has been praised by the BJP and has been declared tax-free in most BJP-ruled states and was a box office hit. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah have praised on the movie.

Many, however, have criticised the content, calling it a one-sided portrayal of the events that is sometimes factually incorrect and claiming the movie has a "propagandist tone".

In May, Singapore banned the movie, citing concerns over its "potential to cause enmity between different communities".

"The film will be refused classification for its provocative and one-sided portrayal of Muslims and the depictions of Hindus being persecuted in the ongoing conflict in Kashmir," read a statement from the Singapore government, reported news agency Press Trust of India.

Mr Agnihotri has alleged an "international political campaign" against him and his film by foreign media.

He claimed this was the reason his press conference was cancelled by the Foreign Correspondents Club and the Press Club of India in May.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan displayed its latest drones at IDEAS 2022 (International Defence Exhibition and Seminar) Defense Expo held in November in Karachi. It also presented sessions on artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and connectivity. The event attracted more than 50 countries, including large pavilions set up by Pakistan's closest friends China and Turkey. The four-day IDEAS 2022 opened on November 15, 2022 at Karachi Expo Centre, bringing together 300 leading national and international defense manufacturers and over 300 foreign delegates from 57 countries.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2022/11/karachi-defense-expo-2022-pakistan.html
Riaz Haq said…
China Has India Trapped on Their Disputed Border

Beijing’s military and infrastructure advantage has transformed the crisis and left New Delhi on the defensive.

https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/12/01/china-india-border-crisis-infrastructure-ladakh-arunachal-pradesh/

The widening power gap between India and China—military, technological, economic, and diplomatic—now constrains New Delhi’s options on the border. It also raises tough questions for India’s geopolitical partnerships, such as the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (known as the Quad), and its aggressive approach toward Pakistan. The border crisis will hang over India’s decision-making for the foreseeable future.

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The risk of an accidental military escalation between Asia’s most populous countries—both nuclear powers—has increased significantly since 2020. This will continue unless Modi and Xi find a new modus vivendi. Establishing guardrails in the relationship will require political imagination and an honest appraisal of relative strengths; failing that, New Delhi faces tough geopolitical choices. It has so far eschewed any security-centric step with the Quad that could provoke Beijing, but murmurs from its partners about reticent Indian policy are bound to get louder. Meanwhile, India’s reliance on Russia for military equipment and ammunition now falls under a cloud of suspicion. And an unstable border with China prevents India from targeting Pakistan, a tactic that has proved politically rewarding for Modi.

---------

This marks the third straight winter that around 50,000 Indian reinforcements will spend in Ladakh’s inhospitable terrain in the northern Himalayas, warding off an equal number of Chinese troops stationed a few miles away. Despite intermittent dialogue between the two militaries, Indian Army Chief Gen. Manoj Pande recently confirmed that China has not reduced its forces at the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Chinese infrastructure construction along the border is “going on unabated,” he said—confirmed by independent satellite imagery and echoed by the latest U.S. Defense Department report on China. Pande said the situation is “stable but unpredictable.” That unpredictability has become structural.

----------------

India’s military and political leaders now confront a reality at the border that should have jolted them into serious action: China has a distinct advantage over India, which it has consolidated since 2020. By investing in a long-term military presence in one of the most remote places on Earth, the PLA has considerably reduced the time it would need to launch a military operation against India. New military garrisons, roads, and bridges would allow for rapid deployment and make clear that Beijing is not considering a broader retreat. The Indian military has responded by diverting certain forces intended for the border with Pakistan toward its disputed border with China. It has deployed additional ground forces to prevent further PLA ingress in Ladakh and constructed supporting infrastructure. Meanwhile, New Delhi’s political leadership is conspicuous in its silence, projecting a sense of normalcy.

Beijing refuses to discuss two of the areas in Ladakh, where its forces have blocked Indian patrols since 2020. In five other areas, Chinese troops have stepped back by a few miles but asked India to do the same and create a no-patrolling zone. This move denies India its right to patrol areas as planned before the border crisis began. The PLA has flatly refused to discuss de-escalation, in which both armies would pull back by a substantive distance. The question of each side withdrawing its additional troops from Ladakh is not even on the agenda. A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson rejected any demand to restore the situation along the LAC as it existed before May 2020. The PLA continues to downplay the severity of the situation, instead emphasizing stability in its ties with India.

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